Published: January 15th 2008January 15th 2008
We arrived at Trivandrum airport without anywhere to stay, not without trying, it’s the holiday period so Kovallam is busy and everywhere we rang in the previous week was full. We flew Air Deccan, service efficient and it was a third of the price of other airlines. Kingfisher has an airline, now that’s diversity, beer to airplanes. I’d like to see air New Zealand start making beer - what’s the saying ‘could not organize a booze up in a brewery’. We stepped off the plane into 30 degree heat.
We drove past quite a few Christian churches here, an unusual sight in India, with Christianity making up just over 2% of India’s population. We had a sneaky suspicion the taxi had just been picked up from a car yard, the driver’s door kept clicking open constantly and he had to slam it shut. Quite freaky when he was turning corners and pulling the swinging door shut whilst avoiding a bus!
Well we ended up in the middle of an Industrial area, we were looking for the beach and we are staying in a hotel in the middle of Technology Park in Trivandrum. So we look a little
Instructions on How to Make a Cuppa
Can you believe this notice in the Ginger Hotel room!
out of place, but it’s a “good enjoy” and time for a rest. We never saw anything of Trivandrum city. Accommodation Review
Ginger Hotel, they are a hotel chain in India- above budget at NZ$62.00 but no where else to spend your money in the middle of a technology park. The hotel was great though, clean bathroom, large room, LCD sat TV on the wall with HBO and Star, it even has a fridge, great shower, in room wi-fi. They completely clean and change linen every single day for you. They even give you in-room tea and coffee making facilities, that’s a first for us. But the best thing - Coffee Day is downstairs and open 24x7, and they do free room delivery. Never ever would have dreamt we would be staying at a place where we could get a latte delivered to our room 24x7 in India! Ginger Hotel
We finally got in to a place at Lighthouse Beach which is a small cove that has a mix of golden and iron black sand, but the beach it is a welcomed sight after weeks in the desert. There is of course a light house
at one end with the beach being lined with a walkway that is full of shops, restaurants, and guest houses/hotels. The beach is covered in Europeans under umbrellas, ladies selling fruit and hawkers. Behind this are narrow walkways back into tree covered areas where there are more shops, restaurants and guest houses. We like this place. There is no rubbish on the beach and the only cows we have seen since we got off the plane have been tied up. There is rubbish though, believe me, but it is hidden behind concrete walls around the narrow walkways, and they burn it off with small fires all day. With Europeans being around there are heaps of western food choices, lattes, cakes, ice cream coffee, croissants, breads, pizza, chicken, but unfortunately it waters down the Indian choices. So we have to hunt out the good curries.
We stayed 3 nights at this lovely place back behind the beach, but got a bit bored with no view so we spent the day looking at rooms, and found this room with a deck right above the walkway so it overlooks the beach. We booked 2 nights and then extended to 4. The room
is very basic and grubby, not suitable for a 2 week romantic holiday, but a backpackers dream. We are on the 2nd floor with a deck that has a fantastic view of the ocean, beach and walkway. It means we have all day entertainment from our deck and are right in the hub of the action!
I feel sorry for the Indian woman on holiday here, you see them walking along the beach in their sari’s, venturing out standing in water up to their knees only. Whereas the men strip down to their undies and go in for a proper swim. The tourists are supposed to show some respect as far as dress sense goes, but there is none of that here. I can now wear singlet tops and sarongs so that’s great. You are advised to keep the bikinis at home by the LP Book but you know Europeans, they let it all hang out when they are at the beach no matter what size or age they are. You even get grannies in bikinis! So all day there is a parade of Indian boys walking along the beach peering at all the bare bodies, or should I
say bare wobbly buttocks hanging out of g-string bikini bottoms. Some of the boys are quite young and they are walking arm in arm down the beach, staring unbelievably and shamelessly with wide grins on their faces. Other more experienced men move their eye balls discretely in the direction of the bare buttocks riding the waves. Some of the boys even decide to indulge walking along proudly in their jockeys. You can hire loungers, and there is fresh fruit salad galore, but unfortunately you still have to say “No thank you” every 30 seconds to the multitude of hawkers along the beach. And there are a few beggars but not too many, about 8.
One thing I am envious of the woman though is that they get to wear such beautiful clothing, you can get some fantastic sari’s. The younger ones wear the set of trouser with long straight dress and long flowing scarf, and some of those in the shops are amazing, all pretty and sparkly. But to swim in - I don’t think so.
The waves at this beach are fantastic, apparently the rip here takes away a few swimmers every year, so there are 3
life guards on duty. You get whistled at twice if you are in a danger area, if you don’t listen or even hear, that’s it, you are on your own. But if you dare to get in, it is fantastic, the waves are so huge and you don’t have to go out very far, it’s a lot of fun. We have not felt much of an undertow at all. The waves sound so thunderous when they break, a sound that goes 24x7.
It’s so weird, it’s like some places serve the beer in a mug, especially if you are at a front table by the walkway, and all the places make you keep the beer under the table (750 ml bottles). So every night you hear breaking glass as the forgotten beer bottles get kicked under the table. The bottles are brought to your table wrapped in newspaper. You see them sneak it in restaurants in this bag about 12 bottles at a time. But yet the same restaurants have great big Kingfisher Beer signs outside.
Power goes out a lot in India but most of the hotels have generators. In Kovallam it goes out every night at
the same time, for at least 30 minutes, and sometimes the entire night. See the photo of a guy fixing the power lines!
Well the top news today is Sir Ed Hillary, front, back and middle pages of the newspaper, he was well respected in India. Food
You are spoilt for choice here, and as you wander along the walkway they try and drag you into their restaurant on the promise of a piece of stinking fish proudly on display out the front on a wooden table with no ice to keep it fresh. We have spent a lot of time at the German Bakery, the best items being their Indian breakfasts and desserts. We start and finish our day there with a hot chocolate. Beatles Bar is great for a pre-dinner drink and Spice Garden Restaurant is very cheap, great curries, good Mexican, cheap fruit cocktails, and every Friday night they setup lights amongst the trees and swamp and have music, they call it a dance party which we have overheard finishes at 4am. Finally in the South we have found some spicy curries, we would have had only 6 decent curries in our 5 weeks
in the North. Being a tourist they assume we cannot handle spicy and even when we ask for it, it has been very mild.
A normal dinner NZ$:
2 x Veg Curries - 5.00
Chipparti (like roti) - 25 cents each
Bowl Rice - 50 cents
Lattes are like 2.50, beer 3.50, spirit and split 4.50, pot of tea 1.00, fruit juice 2.00, piece of cake 2.00, bowl of fruit from beach sellers 1.70, large waffle and ice cream 4.00, yummy vegetable pizza 5.50. Indian Breakfast - 4.00 for a Masala Dosa (huge thin crisp crepe with potato, vege and chilli mix - it was just fantastic and kept the hunger at bay all day). English Breakfast - baked beans, eggs, toast and jam, coffee - 4.00.
They even have beef and bacon on the menu here; that will explain the lack of cows. Funny we were told it was illegal throughout India, but apparently not. So beef stew was ordered last night - yum yum. We also think a lack of B12 might be the hair problem rather than the malaria tablets, as that is beef, pork and dairy. So Lassi for breakfast, chocolate for
lunch and ice cream for dinner! Accommodation
We found accommodation for 3 nights at Maharaju’s Palace and its really nice, a bit over budget at 1750 rupees (NZ$60). This is the peak season though so prices are higher (some double) than normal. This is a lovely tranquil quiet guest house set back from the beach in an enclosed garden setting. It is very clean, run by a Dutchman, rooms are a good size, with nice decor. If you like the quiet life it’s a charming option. It does not have a beach view or a pool though, but is only like 30 seconds walk to the beach, restaurants and shops. We had a look at like another 8 rooms today as we want to stay longer but would like either a pool or a view, and this place is definitely nicer than anything else we saw. I cannot find them on the web, contact details are in LP Book.
We found at Maharaju’s that when we came back to our room we were a bit bored and missed the action of the beach strip, so we found this grubby little gem right on the walkway, the room on
the 2nd floor has a deck that overlooks the beach with a fantastic view, and afternoon sun. It is only 1000 rupees (NZ$34.00) right on budget. Be warned it is only an option for budget travelers, as it needs a good scrub. Its fine if you have been traveling around India and staying at less than 1000 rupees, as you will be used to the not so clean and tidy, but the location and view make it all worthwhile. We loved the spot and anything else offering the same was 3 times the price. I could not find an internet site for them, need to look in phone book. What’s Next
Well, we have spent a week here getting acclimatised to the heat, it took us a few days to get into the beach scene, but since then have been swimming, reading, sleeping and eating. We don’t really want to leave our perfect spot on the beach but need to get a move on. We are off to Varkala today, it is only like an hour away and the hotels, restaurants and shops sit on the top of a cliff with the beach way down below. Then we will
head on to Kochin with stopping in Appelley on the way to go on a river boat for a night before heading up to Goa. We are trying to get our tickets changed to bring forward our leaving date from India a couple of week so we have more time in Laos and Cambodia. Also had some great news that Tom and Sue will be meeting up with us in Thailand beginning of March. We will go and see the Bridge Over the River Kwai, scare Sue on her birthday with an elephant ride, and then down to Koh Samui for 10 days to sunbathe in the late 30’s! Carl will be pleased I am sure to have some male conversation rather than blah blah blah, and I will be able to go back to not thinking before I speak!
There are more photos below